Former Red Bull driver David Coulthard has drawn a striking parallel between Max Verstappen and the maverick entrepreneur Elon Musk. In a sport often characterized by calculated PR and diplomatic statements, Verstappen stands out for his unfiltered “freedom of speech,” which has both endeared him to fans and raised eyebrows within the Formula 1 establishment, particularly its owners, Liberty Media.
Verstappen’s candidness was on full display during the buildup to the Las Vegas Grand Prix. The Dutch sensation didn’t mince his words when he described his feelings about the opening ceremony, likening himself to a “clown” amidst the grand spectacle. He didn’t stop there; Verstappen went on to offer a colorful comparison, branding the Las Vegas street circuit as the “National League” of Formula 1 venues in contrast to the prestigious “Champions League” status of Monaco’s iconic track.
It was only after securing his remarkable 18th victory of the season on the dazzling Las Vegas Strip that Max Verstappen softened his stance on the inaugural race. During the post-race driver interview, he acknowledged the challenges and uniqueness of the event, giving credit where it was due.
In many ways, Max Verstappen embodies the spirit of innovation and disruption that has become synonymous with Elon Musk in the tech world. Both are unafraid to speak their minds, challenge the status quo, and push boundaries. While Verstappen’s approach may ruffle feathers within the Formula 1 hierarchy, it undeniably endears him to fans worldwide.
During Channel 4’s race coverage, when questioned about whether Red Bull team boss Christian Horner might have advised Verstappen to tone down his criticism, Coulthard affirmed and drew parallels between Verstappen’s remarks and Elon Musk’s advocacy for free speech. Coulthard stated:
“I’m sure he would have that conversation, but Max is kind of the Elon Musk of the driving force, isn’t he? He believes in freedom of speech.
“Of course [F1 owners and Vegas race promoters Liberty Media] won’t like it. They’re just thinking about bottom-line investment in, they’re cold, hard business people at the end of the day, but one shoe doesn’t fit all and Max fits into that grumpy [section]. That’s who his character is. Be true to yourself.”
Jamie Chadwick, another commentator alongside Coulthard, echoed Verstappen’s critical perspective of the Las Vegas event, highlighting that the reigning World Champion’s primary focus remains firmly on the racing action. She further elaborated:
“He loves to race. He gets in that car, he just wants to win – he doesn’t care much for the rest of it. That’s his focus, he doesn’t worry about whatever else is going on.
“But a lot of people do care about that and I think that’s why a lot of eyeballs [are on] the sport this weekend. More people are watching it than ever, so I think we’ve got to look at the positives as well but we can see why he’s being the way he is.
“That’s Max and everything he does, it’s just him. You’ve got to respect that. He’s a three-time World Champion for a reason and I have a lot of admiration for what he does. He is himself at times.
“I’m sure Red Bull are frustrated by things he says, but we love it.”